‘Belushi’ Movie Review: The Depth of John Belushi [AFI Fest]

John Belushi died in 1982. 28 years later, the documentary Belushi offering new material on the comedian and actor. Thanks to his widow, Judy Belushi-Pisano, recording interviews with Hollywood colleagues following the death of her husband, writer-director RJ Cutler can provide an oral history of his life and career. Fans will get a new perspective on the comedian’s personal struggles, and people who have only seen his films and sketches will surely learn the depths of the man.

Before ‘Saturday Night Live,’ John Belushi was a funny kid

Home movies show John Belushi growing up in Wheaton, Il. The consensus is that he was a natural player, and animation brings to life what young John’s childhood entertainment was like.

John Belushi and Judy Belushi
John and Judy Belushi Ron Galella / Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Belushi-Pisano saved letters written by her husband from the time they were just gone. They are funny and he really misses him when he is on the road. These letters eventually became disrespectful.

John Belushi almost made it to ‘Saturday Night Live’

From forming the improv group Players Compass West to teaming up with Second City and The National Lampoon, Belushi was a rising star. When he did interviews for Saturday Night Live, burned his bridge by Lorne Michaels.

Belushi Documentary
Iain Belushi | Judy Belushi Pisano / Showtime

He tried to play a real role in the lesser known film Continental Division, and he had hope Neighbors would be more nuanced. It even got clean for a year and a half, but the documentary is getting into the psychology that led to drug use and relapse. It’s a lot deeper than too much.

Oral History is a priceless resource for this documentary, though Cutler is not entirely responsible for it. He uses archived images and creates new animations to create the complete portrait of John Belushi. The documentary will be on Showtime November 22nd.

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